– Lisa Cregan
A: Initially, the old fuddy-duddies who made gardens near where I grew up in Surrey, England. I was in awe of Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson; they gave me a handle on plants. Then I came to America, saw Tommy Church’s garden and really embraced modern California landscapes. I was also massively influenced by the Mexican architect, Luis Barragan.
Q: This property’s bay view could have dominated your plan, but you did something completely unexpected.
A: I actually chose to close up the views. I wanted to immerse visitors in the nature of the place before the view captured their eye. So we created a forest of native vine maples (Acer circinatum), Vancouveria and sword ferns winding down to the house, essentially blocking the views from the parking area. Then you walk into the house and say, “Wow, we’re on the edge of a cliff.” You don’t get the breathtaking shot until you’re on the back terrace talking with the owners.
A: We did two fenced-in gardens: one sun, one shade. You can be sitting in the living room here with a gin and tonic looking on an axis to the sun garden, then go into the office and look to another axis through the vine maples to the shade garden. That satisfied the client’s need for color without having to smear it all over the natural landscape. I think of those little enclosed gardens like soufflés that rise up and bulge over the edge. The alliums and groundcover geraniums are so happy they volunteer in places outside of the corralled spaces, but they always stay close to the parent colony.
Q: Any favorite plants here?
A: The sea thrift, Armeria maritime, is native to this part of the world. It sits in the stone of the spa deck and doesn’t mind being blasted by high winds. I want all my work to look like this, like man has simply come along and tipped his hat to the plant life that pre-dated him.